Fame is fleeting. This magnificent weathervane from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana (made about 1890 and measuring 30" x 31") gets that message across in the plainest terms possible.
The Greek Goddess and allegorical figure of Fame, trumpeting a triumph and bestowing a laurel wreath, was actually a rare subject for commercial weathervane manufacturers of the late nineteenth century. The delicate figure was undoubtedly difficult to execute and has only a limited number of appropriate placements. It simply wouldn't work on a cow barn.
This weathervane is one of the only four known examples featuring Fame, and – despite the fact that Fame is a winged figure – the only ope depicted in a flying pose. Its maker is unknown, although the weathervane was probably the product of a major shop such as E.G. Washburne & Co., J.L. Mott Iron Works, and J.W. Fiske, all of New York. Attribution of these weathervanes is made difficult by the standard practice of borrowing designs or buying and reusing parts.
This weathervane is said to have been found on a building possibly used as a preparatory school for girls by a Catholic diocese in the Boston area. Since learning this fact I've been trying to imagine what the Nuns would say to the girls in relation to the weathervane. Was it aspirational? Or a warning about the pursuit of fame? Did the weathervane predate the school altogether?
Regardless of its original context, this weathervane is a killer piece, and its your to enjoy in our galleries for the rest of the year.